How Motherhood Has Made Me a Better Entrepreneur
In honor of Mother’s Day, not only do I want to spend time with my kids and give my mom a big shout-out (happy Mother’s Day, Marsha Holliday!), I also wanted to spend some time reflecting on what being a mother has done for me as a professional.
Happily, this past week, we had a Tide Risers skill-building session called Entrepreneurship 101 with the brilliant Jo-Ná Williams, Esq. Her abundant and energetic advocacy of entrepreneurialism reminded me of how fortunate I have been to be an entrepreneur and a mother at the same time.
In addition to a wealth of personal and spiritual gifts motherhood has brought me, it has also made me a stronger, more creative, more effective professional. Here are a few thoughts on why that has happened:
1. I take real breaks from work.
There’s no way around this one. If I’m helping my kids with homework or nursing a boo-boo, I’m 100% in. There are a whole host of parenting situations that are just not conducive to multi-tasking. When I was pumping breast milk in a closet at work, I had to look at photos of my babies to be able to produce. I wasn’t able to work for 20 full minutes while I labored to make milk. These times of completely divorcing my thoughts from work give my brain a break that is actually very productive. When I return to work, I feel refreshed and ready to tackle whatever challenges I’ve been facing. I often find I suddenly have a creative rush that results in something innovative I couldn’t conjure up after hours of head-scratching.
2. My creative juices are flowing.
While I believe this is a side-effect of creating life itself, there’s more to it than that. Since becoming a parent, I find myself doing many more creative parenting activities, like making collages, cooking dinner, searching for fairies in the woods, and sewing teddy bears’ eyes back on. There’s something about making things and allowing yourself to delve into the land of imagination that spurs creative thinking.
3. I am damn efficient.
If something is due today and the kids must be picked up at 5:00, you better believe I’m going to finish it on time. As a journalism major and a former dancer, have always been quite strict with deadlines. They must be met. The show must go on. But now that I’m a parent I no longer have the luxury of working late or pulling an all-nighter to finish a deliverable. Work must be completed during work hours. I have learned to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and I have learned how to work backward from a deadline and make every minute productive.
4. I have to make money.
I’ve always had to be concerned with making money. I had tuition bills during college, rent and utility bills in my singleton apartment, and a healthy play and travel lifestyle to keep up with. But none of that compares with the financial demands of parenthood, and the stakes are much higher now. So, I’ve never had the luxury of waffling on what I want to do for a living. I’ve had to just get out and make money however I could. While at times this has been stressful, it’s really a blessing. I have now launched two entrepreneurial businesses — Bergen Street Strategy and Tide Risers — and they have both been in the black right off the bat because they had to be.
5. Being a role model has never been so important.
I have two young girls who need strong female role models. I know I have to be one of them. I want them to see me in leadership roles, comfortably holding my own even when I’m the only woman at the table, working to address the structures of inequality that are baked into our culture, and bringing home the bacon. My desire to break gender norms and set a good example pushes me to be brave and ambitious so my girls can see that they can do the same.
6. My criteria for decision-making are clear.
When I am making decisions about taking on a new client or consulting gig, I now ask myself whether or not this work will enable me to proudly tell my girls that I’m working on something that is going to contribute to the overall good of the world. I also ask myself whether or not this work is going to be worth the time it will require me to be away from my family. So, not only must my work engagements contribute significantly to socially responsible causes, they also have to pay well. This has forced me to be selective when opportunities come my way, which has hugely contributed to my overall happiness with my work and has made my businesses stronger and more financially rewarding.
I’ll be spending Mother’s Day being grateful for these little creatures that have made me a better, more successful entrepreneur. If you have a mamapreneur in your life, give her an extra big hug today. If you are a mamapreneur, I’d love to hear about what parenthood has done for your career on Instagram via #wearetiderisers and @wearetiderisers.